Sometimes, you just have to make a change. Maybe the thing you have just isn't performing like you thought. Maybe the thing you can switch to shows a ton of promise. Regardless, it's time to switch it up. We all know about the quarterback situation, going from Jeremy Johnson to Sean White, and it looks like it's going to pay off. But I'm talking about my formula. Y'all have put up with West Virginia sticking around in the Top 4 the last few weeks, and I've defended it, saying they would fall back down to earth. That did happen, after Baylor absolutely wrecked them this week, but after this weekend's GREAT slate of games, there are even more problems than before. Michigan stuck around at #2, Navy at #6, USC at #12, Boise State at #19, Nebraska at #21... You get the point. The rankings are not reflecting reality. So, after discussions I've had with several people, I've decided it's time for me to make a change as well. It's time for me to pull my starting quarterback and hope the backup proves me right. So what is the change?
I've decided to introduce the winning percentage of the team into my calculation. Whereas before the formula was (roughly):
I've now changed it to (again, roughly):
Where WinPct is the given team's winning percentage, SOS is strength of schedule given by opponents winning percentage, MOV is average margin of victory, and KO is average knockout time, which put simply, occurs at the last point in the game where an opponent has the ball and a chance to tie/take the lead. For more on that, I'll refer you to WarRoom Eagle. I say "roughly" because of the way I set it up to handle teams in the negative for one or both of the MOV and KO values.
Basically, the point is to actually reward teams for winning and punish teams for losing. The spirit of the original rankings was to judge teams based on their performance, regardless of if they won the games or not. In theory, a nine win team that dominated in their wins and had three loses go down to the last minute could be ranked higher than an undefeated team who just barely got by in all of their wins. This actually worked, as in my post-2014 rankings, the only undefeated team in the country, Florida State, was not in the Top 4 and was instead replaced by TCU, the way many of us wanted. I did not want to reward teams for a few fluky wins (2013 jokes aside), but instead wanted to find out which teams truly dominated their schedule. It's just not working this year, though, which is why I decided to switch it up. However, I am still going to keep tabs on the old formula. Maybe as the season goes along, it will begin to more accurately reflect what we are seeing on the field. As I've stated before, this is the first time I've done this during the season, so I'm definitely learning with you guys as I go.
Anyways, enough technical mumbo-jumbo. Y'all want rankings, and I've got em. Drum roll, please...
Here's a link to the whole spreadsheet if you're really into it. Excel is my best friend, y'all.
Let's talk about the Top 4. Finally something we can get behind, don't you think? Baylor, Bama, LSU, and Utah have arguably been the four most impressive teams in the country, even with Bama's loss to Ole Miss. Yes, that loss is looking worse now that Ole Miss has dropped their last two games, but Alabama has made up for it with another big win on the road at College Station. Baylor, LSU, and Utah, all undefeated, have been the most dominant teams so far this year. Obviously, Ohio State and TCU are two of the favorites in the AP Poll, but they really haven't shown enough to be Top 4 teams yet. They both have the meat of their schedules coming up though, so if they really are worthy, we will see soon enough.
So About That Game...
You all know which one I'm talking about. The second (or third, if you favor the Play) greatest finish in college football.
We feel you, Sparty.
So, you're probably thinking, "Ryan, how can you still have a two-loss Michigan, who LOST to Michigan State, in the top 10, while MSU is at #20? That just doesn't make sense!" Here me out. Michigan has looked REALLY good this year. They've blown out all of the teams the were supposed to, and are a half and a play of football against two undefeated teams away from being undefeated. They also have the second hardest strength of schedule in the conference. On the other hand, Michigan State, while undefeated, has had the second easiest strength of schedule, and have narrow wins of three points over Purdue, seven points over Rutgers, and three points over a middling Oregon. Besides their improbable win over Michigan, Sparty's best win came over #54 Oregon. They just haven't played many good teams, and they haven't looked very good beating the bad teams, either. So sure, we may look at Michigan State and recognize that they have a ton of talent and may be conference favorites, but they haven't proven it. They have some big games coming up on the schedule, though, so they'll have their chance the next few weeks.
Winners and Losers
This week's biggest winners and losers may be a little skewed due to the formula edit, but that's no matter. The Big 10's undefeateds all took advantage of the change (as well as big wins), with Ohio State jumping up to #5, Iowa to #9, and Michigan State to #20.This also seems to be the week of the Group of 5 teams, with Navy, Houston, Toledo, Temple, and Memphis all in the Top 25. That's right, the American Athletic Conference has four ranked teams, tied with Big 12 and Big 10, and only one behind the SEC. It'd be really interesting if one of those teams could separate themselves and sneak into the top 10. The single biggest mover was Bowling Green, moving from #79 to #47 after a 49 point beat down of Akron. Texas A&M dropped by 12, and USC and Boise both dropped by 13 to the bottom of the Top 25. West Virginia hit hard times, dropping from #3 to #43. It was a combination of their record now being a factor and getting beat pretty badly by Baylor, which, whew... Baylor is GOOD. I'm looking forward to their game with TCU on the last week of the season.
The SEC really opened it up this week, with an average ranking of #42.9, whereas the next best conference, the Big 10, is only at averaging around #47.6. The SEC still has the best strength of schedule, although the Big 10 has closed that gap (0.584 vs 0.581). The Big 10, Pac 12, and Big 12 are all bunched right there together averaging around #48, and the ACC is lagging far behind the rest of the P5 conferences at #55.7. The AAC, with its four ranked teams, isn't far behind the ACC at #62.4, well ahead of any other Group of 5 conferences. The Sun Belt, although improving quickly, is still the worst conference in the country by far, averaging a whopping #101.6 and just 1.4 wins per team. The conference is saved by its top two teams, #46 Appalachian State and Walt's #39 Georgia Southern not State. These two teams play each other Thursday night, and I suggest you tune in. Unless you're like me, and you have an organic chemistry test Friday morning. Blehhhh.
Games of the Week
Welp, after checking out this week's slate, I now understand why Gameday is headed to James Madison. This is a hangover from last week if I've ever seen one. Just going by the rankings, the best two games on Saturday are Utah-USC and LSU-Western Kentucky. Seriously. It's that bad. I guess this is the week all the conferences decided to schedule their least competitive conference matchups, although I guess there's always the chance some underdog pulls off an upset. See the Big 10 slate for that. For the game you should only watch if you have a burning hatred for your football self, go check out Mizzou-Vandy. It'll be tough to beat that Mizzou-UGA game last weekend, but I think they can do it.
A Win is a Win is a Win
How did y'all enjoy that Thursday night thriller? I'm starting to not mind Auburn playing road Thursday night games, because it opens up my Saturday to revel in other team's failures (looking at you, Ole Miss). Since Auburn let us off last Thursday and Friday for fall break, I loaded up my car with a few friends and we made the road trip. Maybe it was just because it was a school/work day, but I've got to say, Lexington did not look ready to host a primetime SEC game when we got to town. The tailgating left a lot to be desired, and it felt like there were no UK fans in the stadium until about 20 minutes before kickoff. But hey, I'm sure they think the same about our basketball fans, so I won't be too hard on them. Once the game actually started, they were a really good crowd, and the Wildcats fed off of that in the second half. I'll take a road SEC win any day of the week. However, even with the win, our #71 Tigers are still in the negative in both KO and MOV. Hopefully a good win against #60 Arkansas can pull us up into the positives.